2022 Planting Progress

FLORIDA | David Wright

David Wright, Florida
David Wright,

Cotton crop production costs have historically increased 3% to 5% yearly, but they have doubled for the year 2021 to 2022 for most inputs. Cotton technology helps farmers manage the crop through the technology in the seed and seed treatment, and financial risks have increased, making it necessary that high yields are made. Irrigation for cotton has increased due to these increased production costs putting more strain on surface and ground water. 

Our research has shown that high yields can be made without irrigation if proper rotations were used and cotton was planted after winter grazing (rye/oats). Cotton grown after winter grazing versus after cover crops without grazing has greater rooting depth. It also has higher soil nitrate and water uptake. This leads to yields achieved without irrigation comparable to those of irrigated cotton in a continuous peanut/cotton rotation without winter grazing.

As energy costs get higher, growers can look at benefits of cover crops and use of strip tillage, along with better rotations. Cotton yields after winter grazing have increased by 10% to 30% or more, resulting in a system that decreases risks to the grower while being able to integrate livestock for more diversity in the farm operation. 

June is critical for cotton management (weed control, nitrogen, growth regulator) to get early fruit set for early maturity to reduce potential pesticide and irrigation needs. Most N needs of the crop should be met during the month of June as the cotton is squaring, and no N should be applied later than the third week of bloom. wright@ufl.edu

GEORGIA | Camp Hand

camp hand
Camp Hand,

In South Georgia, the gnats are coming out. This signifies two things: 1. Field season is in full swing, and 2. It is getting hot out there. 

It has warmed up fast, the sun shines brightly, and lately, it seems like there has been a slight to heavy breeze every day. For many, these are signs of the sweet summertime that Kenny Chesney refers to in his song “Summertime.” But some growers in Georgia could use a rain. 

As I write this May 16, rains have been hit or miss across the state. From the conversations I have had with county agents, it seems like the growers that have gotten rains have been able to take advantage and get their crop planted. Meanwhile, some growers I have talked to say, “Yep, I could see it from my house, but I didn’t get a drop. (*Insert neighbor’s name here*) got an inch on their entire place, but it missed me.” Although this is the case, even the folks that are getting the rains are losing moisture quickly. 

I talked to one of our station directors on the phone this morning who said they got exactly what they needed last Friday (a long, slow rain, totaling an inch), but with the wind, intense sun and rising temps, they are losing moisture quicker than they would like. Even folks who planted into moisture are considering replanting because the seed imbibed water and began germinating. But those seed have now died because the moisture was gone so fast. Although this pattern-like drying out at some point in May seems to be the “norm,” it doesn’t make it any less frustrating. 

Even though this is the case across our state, we are amazingly “on par” with our planting progress. The crop progress report for May 16 currently has us at 39% planted, which is slightly behind our five-year average of 42% planted. This bodes really well for us because we can get our crop planted in a hurry when the moisture is there. Ideally, we would want to spread out planting dates and disperse that risk a little bit. But if our backs are against the wall, we can make it happen. 

If you have any questions, your local UGA county Extension agent and specialists are here to help! camphand@uga.edu 

NORTH CAROLINA |Keith Edmisten

Keith Edmisten
Keith Edmisten,
North Carolina

We had some good planting weather in the later part of April followed by a typical cool spell in early May. Temperatures returned to normal by mid-May. As I am writing this, we are probably 60% planted and should be near 90% by the end of the week (May 20) if rains do not delay planting. 

It is still too early to tell how much replanting may go on, particularly with the cotton planted during the cool spell in early May. Additionally, localized hailstorms on the evening of May 16 may necessitate replanting in some fields. 

Soil temperatures and the weather outlooks are good as of May 16 and hopefully will allow growers to complete planting by May 25. Growers will be able to turn their attention to weed control and evaluating thrips pressure. We will likely have some cotton in June that is still young enough to suffer thrips damage if the pressure is heavy. keith_edmisten@ncsu.edu

TENNESSEE | Tyson Raper

Tyson Raper, Tennessee
Tyson Raper,

Tennessee had a rather challenging corn planting window with few opportunities to put that crop in during April. Fortunately, a very good window opened on the first day of May and while a few used the first few days of that window to wrap up corn planting, most had switched into cotton by May 5. 

As I write this on May 16, I suspect the state may be close to 75% planted. Severe thunderstorms moved through over the past weekend (5/13-5/15), and some isolated hail damage has been reported. But generally speaking, the rain has been welcomed. 

The thrips forecast model by North Carolina State suggested our earliest planted cotton may move past the susceptible growth stage with little pressure, and it looks like that may come true. The model currently suggests pressure for cotton planted late last week and through this week to be considerably higher. 

Keep in mind that we have seen a shift in product efficacy, and acephate is no longer providing the same level of control at the rates we used a few years back. While increasing the rate of acephate applied is an option, likely the better option is choosing another product. By the time you read this in June, Dr. Sebe Brown with the University of Tennessee will have additional information on rates and product selection on our website at news.utcrops.com. traper@utk.edu

ALABAMA | Steve M. Brown

STEVE BROWN, alabama
Steve M. Brown,

I’m concerned. It is mid-May, and we’re DRY, very dry, with little prospects for change over the next couple of weeks … except for escalating temperatures. The majority of our crop is yet to emerge, and we’re proceeding to plant into marginal soil moisture or in some cases, almost no moisture at all. We’re in trouble.

Maybe I’m overly biased by what I see day in and day out. Reports from distant parts of Alabama suggest conditions better than I encounter most days. Hopefully, things are better than I perceive.

I realize we’re “small potatoes” in the cotton world and that if a single hill didn’t come up in Alabama, the market would hardly notice. But the December futures price, which marched right past the $1.25 mark on May 12, indicates there are lots of production challenges across the Belt and maybe the entire globe. 

This is unprecedented territory for a crop that is not yet fully in the ground. What an opportunity!

The rise in December futures reflects the steepness of our challenges. Dry weather. Labor issues. Shortages of crop protection chemicals, equipment and parts. Soaring costs for fertilizer, chemicals, fuel, etc. 

Stand establishment is an obvious big, early step in this pursuit. Given prevailing conditions, we’ll probably have to live with less than ideal populations in some fields. If you’re aiming to make a crop, a half-stand is better than no stand. Even with counts around one plant per foot, assuming consistency of stand and minimal three-foot skips, we can make strong yields … if the weather turns and we get some relief.

If we can just get the crop out of the ground… cottonbrown@auburn.edu

MISSISSIPPI | Brian Pieralisi

brian pieralisi
Brian Pieralisi,

Cotton is off to a good start in Mississippi! I wanted to lead off with this statement because it’s been quite a while since this statement has been true — at least in our region. Soil temperatures reached 65 degrees during the last few days in April. Despite a couple of cool nights, cotton growers experienced two weeks of great planting weather during the optimal planting window. The biggest concern facing growers was having adequate moisture for a stand. 

The majority of Mississippi cotton acres are in the ground. Warm day time temperatures have expedited the emergence process, with many acres experiencing a successful stand.

As I write this May 16, the majority of Mississippi cotton acres are in the ground. Warm day time temperatures have expedited the emergence process, with many acres experiencing a successful stand. I have received few reports of emergence issues. Recent rains provided enough moisture for most marginal stand areas while activating PRE herbicides, which puts the crop in pretty good shape for this time of the year.

Some of the older cotton is experiencing high thrips pressure, which needs to be addressed to avoid maturity delays. It’s time to consider nitrogen management strategies. With increased fertilizer costs, N-use efficiency is important, especially if considering reducing rates. Therefore, splitting applications to minimize N losses could be beneficial in reduced N scenarios. 

Finally, properly managing plant growth is best when started early. If the crop is not managed properly and early with PGRs, the result could be excessive vegetative growth and an unwanted rank canopy. It’s best to be proactive rather than reactive in terms of a PGR management strategy. bkp4@msstate.edu

ARKANSAS |Bill Robertson

Bill Robertson, University of Arkansas
Bill Robertson,

This is the fourth year in a row that cool and wet weather has significantly slowed cotton planting. Planting progress the last three seasons was slow, with approximately half of our intended acres in the ground mid-May. However, the last few seasons represent our best years on record regarding yield per acre. 

The 2022 Crop Progress report by USDA-NASS estimated cotton planting at 53% on May 15. Favorable weather forecast is encouraging that we can get most of our crop in by May 20. Our old rule of thumb that up to a two% loss of yield potential may be experienced for every day planting occurs after May 20 is an important consideration for late-season planting decisions.

The first 40 days in the life of a cotton plant sets the foundation for yield and fiber quality potential. Pest management issues are generally the greatest concerns for our young crop. However, as we move into the next few weeks in June, other factors including fertility, soil moisture and stress become more critical. 

Irrigation water management is likely our next big challenge. There are many programs, tools and practices available that producers can use to help improve irrigation water-use efficiency. Everyone who uses poly pipe should be using Delta Plastics’ Pipe Planner, a computerized hole selection tool. 

We want to go into squaring with the plant developing a new node every 2.5 to 3 days. This will put us on track to having 9 to 10 nodes above white flower at first flower that we need in Arkansas to achieve the yield potential we want and need. Contact your local county Extension agent for more information. brobertson@uada.edu

LOUISIANA | Matt Foster

matt foster
Matt Foster,

Cotton planting in Louisiana is almost complete. This year’s crop was planted very quickly due to ideal weather and field conditions. As I write this May 13, approximately 90% of the crop has been planted, compared to approximately 45% this time last year. Temperatures have been excellent and most cotton is emerging within four to six days. Replanting is occurring in some areas due to soil crusting issues, and some planting operations will cease this week due to dry field conditions. Overall, the crop is looking good so far. 

In Louisiana, cotton is generally planted in mid-April to mid-May. Fortunately, the majority of our cotton crop this year will be planted during the optimal planting window. Research has shown that cotton planted in late May to early June can see up to a 25% reduction in lint yield. 

With dry field conditions currently delaying planting in some areas of the state, some of the 2022 cotton crop may be planted later. For late-planted cotton, growers may need to fine tune their management practices for insect control, N fertilization and plant growth regulator (PGR) in order to avoid a delayed harvest. Thrips damage and excess N can delay maturity. Late-planted cotton often grows more vigorously compared to an early planted crop, so a timelier PGR approach is often needed. mfoster@agcenter.lsu.edu

TEXAS | Murilo Maeda

Murilo Maeda
Murilo Maeda,
Texas A&M

By the time you receive this issue of Cotton Farming, we will have passed our first insurance deadline of May 31 for counties in our northern-most areas (mostly those in the Texas Panhandle). The June 5 and 10 deadlines will be soon approaching as well, however, for areas around and south of Lubbock. 

As I write this in mid-May, the region has finally seen some widespread rainfall in a straight line from Denver City (Southwest) to Canadian (Northeast), going through Lubbock but generally favoring areas east of I-27. Rainfall amounts ranging from a trace to as much as 2.5 inches, with localized higher amounts, were seen. However, when considering the big picture, this isolated event was unfortunately not enough to even make a dent in the severe drought we currently see in the region. In fact, the May 12th drought monitor still has 100% of the northern and southern high plains region under extreme or exceptional drought. 

This has been the driest Jan. – April period on record for us (yes, even “beating” 2011). While planters have been rolling already, many are still waiting on a good planting rain and/or dusting in their crop. According to the May 9th USDA-NASS Texas crop progress report, 22% of cotton acres have already been planted across the state (up 2% from the previous week and just 2% below last year’s planting progress).

 We expect planting activities to significantly ramp up in the next few weeks as our growers consider planting capacity and calendar dates. Assuming we can get enough moisture to get this crop up and alive, we are likely looking at a late crop that will need to be managed for earliness accordingly. When you receive the July issue of Cotton Farming, we’ll have a much better idea of what our planted acres look like. I will be sure to update you at that time. mmaeda@ag.tamu.edu 

TEXAS | Ben McKnight

ben mcknight
Ben McKnight,
Texas A&M

As of early May, approximately 22% of the 2022 cotton acres have been planted in Texas. This is about right on par with planting progress over the past five years. Dry conditions prevail across much of Texas, and soil moisture is short or very short in 82% of the state. 

Cotton is blooming in the Lower Rio Grande Valley as hot, dry conditions continue to persist in the region. Cotton in the LRGV is beginning to show signs of moisture stress, and growers with the capability to irrigate have started running water across fields.

Further north in the Coastal Bend, cotton acres will be reduced this year due to a tremendous lack of moisture. Preliminary reports anticipate 100,000 or more acres to be zeroed out due to drought conditions and poor or no emergence.

In the Upper Gulf Coast, soil moisture conditions have been better than the Coastal Bend, but things are beginning to dry out rather quickly. Some of the earliest planted cotton in this region is progressing past matchhead square, and insect scouting has shifted towards keeping an eye out for fleahopper pressure. Growers in this region have also started to water cotton on irrigated fields.

Cotton acres in the Blackland Prairie region received some much-needed rainfall in the second week of May, and some areas received two to three-inches of precipitation. Most of the cotton fields that I’ve looked at recently in the Blacklands have an average growth stage of two to three true leaves, but there are still some fields just now emerging with recent rainfall. Thrips damage has been quite prevalent in several areas within the Blacklands this year, but timely applications have done a good job preventing further damage. 

Moisture conditions in the Rolling Plains are similar to much of the state, and growers there are awaiting additional rainfall and soil moisture to get the crop planted. bmcknight@tamu.edu 

ARIZONA | Randy Norton

Randy Norton
Randy Norton

With the planting season behind us and the crop off to a good start across the state, we begin to look at early and mid-season management. For the most part, the spring planting season has been kind with very little need for replanting across the state. Healthy root systems developed early will lead to vigorous and efficient plants moving into the middle part of the summer. 

With the cost of inputs, specifically fertilizers, it is critical to be as efficient as possible to maximize utilization of applied fertilizers by the crop. Research has demonstrated that the most efficient and best-utilized application of nitrogen (N) fertilizer occur when those applications are made during the crop growth window of first square to peak bloom. Applications made prior to first square are typically less efficient as uptake of N by the crop does not pick up significantly until first square. 

We have also learned that applications made after peak bloom tend to lead to delayed maturity and a crop that is difficult to defoliate efficiently. Targeting the application window of first square to peak bloom will maximize N uptake by the crop and reduce the potential for losses to the system beyond crop uptake. For more information on this topic and other related to mid-season crop management, visit our website at extension.arizona.edu/crops-soils. rnorton@cals.arizona.edu

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